American truckers plan to circle the White House and state capitals in a “rolling blockade” to protest a federal government plan to allow Mexican long-haul rigs to operate throughout the U.S.
Drivers who participate in “Truck-Out” also are being asked to run their rigs at the minimum speed permitted by law.
The protest is scheduled for April 23-25 to coordinate with the “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” rally and radio talk show marathon in Washington planned by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
“American truckers are going to have their jobs undercut or vanish into the hands of Mexican truck drivers as this Department of Transportation pilot project gains permanency,” said Frosty Wooldridge, a writer and talk-show host who drove 18-wheelers for two decades.
Woolridge first called for the Truck-Out protest in a column at the end of March, asking truckers in the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California to participate.
The idea expanded to a national boycott when Wanda Piety, a California independent business owner, joined Wooldridge in planning “Truck-Out”.
“Every American truck driver’s job is at risk,” Woolridge said. “American drivers are going to see their wages undermined or they will lose their jobs altogether to Mexican drivers and Mexican trucking companies.”
As WND reported, despite congressional opposition, the Bush administration expects to begin within weeks a pilot test that will allow Mexican trucks to operate freely across the U.S.
A spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Ian Grossman, told WND the agency plans to grant the first authority as early as the end of this month.
WND previously reported an amendment introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., into the Fiscal Year 2007 Supplemental Appropriations Bill is designed to block the pilot test until the Mexican government authorizes U.S. trucking companies to operate in Mexico.
‘Jobs will vanish’
Wooldridge told WND he expects Mexican truck drivers to haul loads for considerably less than half the cost of U.S. truck drivers.
“Jobs will vanish for American truckers,” he contended. “The independents are going to be run right out of the business.”
Working together, Piety and Wooldridge have created a website, SaveAmericaFund.org as the home of the boycott.
“The reaction we are getting to ‘Truck-Out’ has been overwhelmingly successful,” Piety told WND. “We have thousands of truckers contacting us saying they will participate.”
The plan calls for drivers to form a slow-moving line across major highways outlying Washington, D.C. and the state capitals of the lower 48 states.
“We want to circle the White House and the state capitals in a slow-rolling boycott,” Piety explained. “As long as we keep moving, the trucks won’t be ticketed. The truckers plan to drive the slowest minimum speed allowed by the law, running bumper-to-bumper and side-by-side across the highways to block up and jam up traffic.”
Piety said the goal is to back up traffic behind the protest “as far as we can back it up.”
“There’s no law against anything we’re doing,” she said. “Even on the freeways, for trucks to go all the way across the freeway and back up traffic, there’s no law that says that’s illegal.”
If police come and break up the protest, the truckers “will just go on down the road a ways and start up the protest up once again.”
“We just want to continually have a cohesive flow of truckers boycotting going on, all across the nation, wherever we can get it to happen,” Piety explained. “We want to let as many people to know as possible.”
Piety told WND she sees the Department of Transportation’s Mexican truck pilot test as part of a broader Bush administration plan to open the border.
“There’s a problem in this country, and it revolves around George Bush’s plans with Mexico,” she said. “The plan to allow Mexican trucks into the U.S. is part of [the North America Free Trade Agreement] and we are opposed to that plan, just like we are opposed to NAFTA.”
Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the OOIDA, told WND his group shares “in the outrage that is being felt by the folks who are organizing and participating in the ‘Truck-Out.'”
While OOIDA is not sponsoring or endorsing the protest, Spencer said the group is “encouraging our members to fully exercise their rights and responsibilities as American citizens to work within the system and convey their indignation to their elected officials.”
“It is simply outrageous that our government plans to allow Mexican trucks full reign of U.S. highways before all safety, economic and homeland security concerns are completely and appropriately addressed,” he said.
A Teamsters Union spokesman told WND the union was aware of “Truck-Out” but not involved.
“The union is concentrating on using its political clout to block the pilot program through the legislative process,” Galen Munroe told WND.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., whose NAFTA Trucking Safety Act is now working its way through House committees, commented to WND on the “Truck-Out” boycott.
“The growing opposition to the pilot program and the overall effort to grant cross-border truckers immediate and direct access into the United States should not be ignored,” he said.
“People have a right to be concerned with the Mexican truck pilot program,” said Hunter, “especially when it could potentially compromise their safety and our nation’s security.”
Hunter stressed the reasons he has introduced the NAFTA Trucking Safety Act, noting it’s “important that the implementing authority listen to and thoroughly address these concerns before moving forward with the program.”
Wooldridge was a math-science teacher in Denver in the 1970s when he decided to supplement his salary by driving trucks in the summer.
For 21 summers, he was a long-haul driver for United Van Lines. For the last three years of his trucking career, Wooldridge was the head trainer and safety officer for Johnston Storage & Moving in Denver, a United Van Lines agency.
Wooldridge drove 18-wheel long-haul rigs in all 48 states of the lower U.S. and in Canada. He ran 48- and 53-foot freight boxes, with extensive experience on the Interstate highways.
Today, Wooldridge is a professional writer who specializes in non-fiction adventure books. He writes two columns a week on the Internet and hosts a radio show on the Republic Broadcasting Network twice a week.
Piety owns a private business in Los Angeles. She declined to name it because of her concern local pro-illegal immigration groups would harass her in response to organizing “Truck-Out.”